Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

August 20, 1966

Not long after John Lennon proclaimed the Beatles more popular than Jesus Christ, the band made its only appearance in Memphis, for two shows, around 7,500 fans attending an afternoon show at the Mid-South Coliseum, more than 12,500 that night.

The newspaper portrayed the evening show as raucous despite the presence of 80 police officers; four spectators were injured when a cherry bomb was thrown from the balcony.

The cherry bomb episode was the only serious mar of a day in which 20,128 persons heard the Liverpudlinans bow to Dixie.

The musical performance of the long-hair Englishmen was hard to judge as the shrieks and screams of the paying guests almost drown them out.

Sidenotes:

  • A competing event across town — "Memphis Christian Youth Rally" — drew 8,000.
  • The Ku Klux Klan picketed.
    The sheets and hoods lent an incongruous touch to the stream of bell-bottomed trousers, paisley shirts and high heeled boots worn by the Beatles faithful who filed by.
  • The band was guaranteed 65 percent of gate receipts and took home $71,957.60.
  • Reporter William Norton slipped on a white coat and slipped into the crew serving the Beatles a pre-show meal in a locker room. "Say the blessing, John," said a member of the Beatles entourage. John Lennon bowed his head and muttered something about Memphis, Tennessee. Those sitting closest to him laughed.

The Beatles performed at 4 and 8:30 p.m. at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Friday, Aug. 19, 1966. The Commercial Appeal reported that 20,128 people "heard the Liverpudlians bow to Dixie." A total of 7,589 attended the afternoon show and 12,539 showed up at the evening concert. The Cyrkle, Bobby Hebb, The Ronettes and The Remains also were on the bill. Tickets cost $5.50. According to the newspaper, the Beatles - John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr - wore "modish-dull gray suits" for the afternoon show and "dark green creations with chartreuse shirts" for the evening concert. A chain link fence surrounded the stage. Across town, a crowd of more than 8,000 filled the Auditorium North Hall and part of the South Hall for the Memphis Christian Youth Rally. This was provoked by Lennon's statement that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. (Robert Williams/The Commercial Appeal)

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